An initiative sponsored by the Association pour la santé publique du Québec

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Translation of this website has been made possible through financial support from the Canadian Partnership Against Cancer and Health Canada.

The views expressed herein represent the views of the Weight Coalition and do not necessarily represent the views of the project funders.



Prevalence of Obesity


Obesity has become a major public health issue. Bearing witness to this is the fact that the World Health Organization (WHO) has qualified the global surge in obesity and weight problems an epidemic [1]. By “epidemic” is meant that these problems have spread rapidly to a large number of individuals in given areas or populations.

In Québec

In 2004

  • Adults: 57% of the Quebec population suffers from excess weight [3].
    • 22% obesity
    • 35% overweight
  • Children: Nearly one out of four children suffers from excess weight [4].
    • 7% obesity
    • 15% overweight


[3] Mongeau, L., Audet, N., Aubin J., & Baraldi, R. (2005). L’excès de poids dans la population québécoise de 1987 à 2003, Québec, Institut national de santé publique du Québec et Institut de la statistique, 23 pages.

[4] Tjepkema, M. & Shields, M. (2005). Adult obesity in Canada: Measured height and weight. Ottawa, Statistique Canada, product no 82-620-MWF20050001, 35 pages. Consulted at

In Canada

In 2009

  • Adults: 61% of Canadians suffer from excess weight [5].
    • 24% obesity
    • 37% overweight
  • Children: 26% of children suffer from excess weight [6].
    • 9% obesity
    • 17% overweight


[5] Statistics Canada. (2010, January 13). Canadian Health Mesures Survey. Consulted at

[6] Statistics Canada. (2010, January 13). Canadian Health Mesures Survey. Consulted at

In the World
  • The WHO expects that, by 2015, almost 2.3 billion adults will be overweight and more than 700 millions will be obese [7].


[7] World Health Organization. Obesity and Overweight. Fact sheet n°311.

It is not uncommon nowadays to observe severe weight problems as of early childhood. This is raising serious concerns about health problems and diseases associated with excess weight.

Measuring obesity

The body mass index and waist circumference are indicators that serve to determine whether a person is over- or under-weight to the point of being exposed to health risks.

Body mass index (BMI)

The BMI is the indicator most widely used in research to evaluate whether a person is overweight. However, the BMI is limited in that it does not take account of muscle mass, bone structure and fat distribution.

  • Overweight: BMI between 25 and 29,9 (kg/m2)
  • Obesity: BMI above 30 (kg/m2)

The WC allows evaluating excess abdominal fat and, more specifically, the health risk of this excess (e.g., cardiovascular diseases, diabetes).

  • A WC greater than 94 cm for men and greater than 80 cm for women is considered an increased health risk.

In this regard, data from the Canadian Health Measures Survey (CHMS) revealed that based on WC:

  • the proportion of adult Canadians 20 to 39 years old in the increased health risk category was:
    • 31% for women
    • 21% for men;
  • in the 60-69 age group, the proportions were more than twice as high:
    • 65% for women
    • 52% for men


[1] World Health Organization. (2000). Obesity: preventing and managing the global epidemic. Report of a WHO consultation, WHO technical report series 894.